Low glycemic index treatment: Implementation and new insights into efficacy


Address correspondence to Heidi H. Pfeifer, R.D. L.D.N., Pediatric Epilepsy Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, 175 Cambridge St., Suite 340, Boston, MA 02114, U.S.A. E-mail hpfeifer@partners.org


Despite the substantial efficacy of the ketogenic diet (KD) in treating refractory epilepsy, use of the KD remains limited because of difficulties in implementation and tolerability. An effective alternative dietary approach is a low glycemic index treatment (LGIT), which liberalizes the extreme carbohydrate restriction of the KD but restricts the type of carbohydrate-containing foods to those that produce relatively small changes in blood glucose. Foods with a “glycemic index” of less than 50 produce less than half the area-under-the-curve elevation of blood glucose compared to a reference food. The LGIT approach produces comparable efficacy to the classic KD, but tolerability is improved and implementation is much simpler. The LGIT appears to be a viable first-line dietary therapy for epilepsy.